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Sisolak praises firefighters who battled Caldor blaze near Tahoe

STATELINE – At the edge of the half-tamed Caldor Fire — in gusty winds that threatened to rekindle it — Gov. Steve Sisolak and other officials visited with fire crews Friday for an up-close look at the work that helped keep the blaze from encroaching into Nevada.

The governor toured sites in Douglas County where crews have worked to clear vegetation around NV Energy power lines that run through the Sierra Nevada. At a staging area at the Hard Rock Hotel, the governor also served lunch to firefighters and visited a local fire station where firefighters from Clark County were dispatched to back up local teams fighting the wildfire.

“This is saving a lot of structures, a lot of damage, and potentially a lot of lives,” the governor said of the clearings fire crews cut around power lines. The work creates a fire break and also helps to ensure power stays on.

The Caldor Fire, which has consumed more than 218,000 forest acres and some 1,000 homes and other structures, was 53 percent contained as of Friday morning. The fire started Aug. 14 south the community of Grizzly Flats in El Dorado County in California and swept northeastward in gusty mountain winds toward South Lake Tahoe and the Nevada state line before winds calmed last week.

Winds had returned to the area Thursday evening, with a red flag warning posted through 11 p.m. Friday.

The governor was joined Friday by Sen. Chris Brooks, D-Las Vegas, who sponsored two bills during the 2019 session that helped mitigate fire risk with the backing of state agencies and local businesses.

Senate Bill 329 requires electric utilities to submit a natural disaster protection plan to the state Public Utilities Commission, while Senate Bill 508 allocated $5 million to the state Division of Forestry, matching other federal and local grant money, which paid to expand the scope of forest management throughout the state.

“It’s important that the public knows that we need to be more proactive,” Sisolak said. “The fire season is not a short season anymore, it’s becoming a 12 month season. The state needs to take a more proactive role and it’s my intent that we continue to do that in funding these programs to work in conjunction with our local, our federal partners and with NV Energy to make sure that we can continue to do this.”

Thanking first responders, the governor said the teams were “busting their backs out here doing things that other people…are not capable of doing.

“The sacrifice that these guys are making,” Sisolak said. “I couldn’t be more grateful for everything that they’re doing.”

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Bill Dentzer at bdentzer@reviewjournal.com. Follow @DentzerNews on Twitter.

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